There are many microphones that can be used to create excellent vocal recordings, but not every mic is well-suited for recording the subtleties of the human voice. Getting the most from a vocal recording depends on the microphone used, and a bad mic equals a bad recording. Are USB microphones good for vocal recordings, or should you stick to using XLR mics for vocals?
USB microphones can be good for recording vocals if they are used well and if the microphone itself is good for this purpose. Not all USB microphones are high-quality, and not all are good for vocals. USB mics such as the Shure MV7 are the Blue Yeti are perfect for high-quality vocal recordings.
USB microphones are getting better and better, and some claim to be ideal for vocal performances and recordings. Do these mics live up to their marketing, or are they nothing but a gimmick? XLR microphones are the industry standard for vocal recordings, but many artists are using USB mics for this purpose. Let’s explore the viability of USB mics for recording vocals.
Are USB Microphones Good For Vocals?
There is a very wide range of USB microphones available, and many are made to be good for recording instruments and vocals. However, this microphone type has a reputation for over-promising and under-delivering. Can you trust a USB mic with a vocal recording?
There are some USB microphones that are very good for recording vocals, and there are many that are not well-suited for this purpose at all.
The reality of USB microphones is that they are made with a built-in preamp and analog-digital converter, which means that the circuitry within the microphone forces it to be designed around one function.
XLR microphones can be combined with external gear to alter the way they sound and perform, while USB microphones will only ever sound one way.
This means that some USB microphones are designed to be good for vocals, and these mics perform well, but any USB mic that is not designed for this purpose is not a great vocal recording mic.
The best USB microphones for vocal recordings are those that are made to a very high level of quality and those that are designed for recording voices. The human singing voice is highly complex and nuanced, and only microphones designed for this can handle this type of recording.
Any vocal mic made for recording instruments, general purpose, or for basic functionality such as video conferencing or gaming is not likely to be good for recording vocals. These microphones can record vocals, but they are unlikely to produce good-quality audio that is good for mixing into a track.
How Do USB Mics Compare To XLR Mics For Vocals?
Most great vocal performances are recorded using microphones with XLR outputs. This type of output is ideal for vocal recordings because it is very clean, very clear, has very little latency, and has very low signal noise or interference.
Can USB microphones compare to XLR mics for vocal recordings?
USB mics are generally considered to be inferior to XLR microphones for recording vocal tracks, but there is such a wide spectrum of XLR microphones that there are some models that are far inferior to USB mics.
Any high-end USB microphone will outperform a low-end XLR mic for recording vocals, but when a USB and XLR mic of the same quality are directly compared, the XLR usually wins.
However, this does not mean that a USB mic is bad for recording vocals; it simply means that the XLR signal path of the conventional microphone produces a cleaner signal.
The less clear signal produced by USB microphones is usually due to interference generated within the signal path. USB is not usually meant for transferring audio signals, so this type of signal transfer is less neat than the signal transfer of an XLR cable.
These signal issues are usually why USB microphones produce a slightly less useable audio signal than XLR microphones.
High-end, well-made USB mics mitigate this problem by using top-of-the-line hardware and circuitry, and these mics are far better than basic XLR mics, but there are some very good XLR mics out there that will always be better than USB microphones for vocal recordings and performances.
Is It Worthwhile Using A USB Mic For Vocals?
If USB microphones are slightly inferior for vocal recordings than XLR microphones, is it worthwhile using a USB microphone for this purpose?
It is worthwhile using a USB microphone for vocal recordings. Several advantages come with using a USB mic for recording vocals, including the fact that USB microphones are less expensive overall than an XLR microphone setup.
Buying a USB mic only involves buying the mic. They usually have a desk stand, mic clip, and cable and adapters included. These microphones also have built-in analog-digital converters and a built-in preamp.
All of this means that using a USB microphone is simply plug-and-play, while an XLR microphone requires a lot of external gear to function.
This means that USB mics are far more accessible for many more people than XLR microphones and are well worth using for recording purposes.
Modern high-end XLR microphones are excellent for recording vocals, but the reality is that modern high-end USB microphones are very good as well.
While USB mics are not always as good as XLR mics, they are still very good microphones for all recording purposes, and there have been some excellent pro-level recordings made on USB microphones.
Using a USB microphone is not a limitation, and it can produce excellent vocal recordings if you know how to use it well. The good quality of these mics combined with the accessibility of this mic type makes USB microphones well worthwhile for recording vocals.
The Pros And Cons Of Using A USB Mic To Record Vocals
USB microphones are unlike any other class of mic. These devices are specifically designed to fulfill a unique purpose in the audio space, and many of them fulfill this purpose perfectly.
There are some wonderful advantages that come with using a USB microphone for recording vocals, but there are some significant disadvantages as well.
Every USB mic is different, and every model has strengths and weaknesses, but there are some universal pros and cons to using a USB microphone for vocal recordings.
To better understand these mics and assess their usefulness for vocal recordings, let’s explore some of the most prevalent pros and cons of using USB microphones for this purpose.
The Pros Of USB Microphones For Vocals
The pros of using a USB microphone for recording vocals are the most interesting here, so let’s begin with the advantages of these mics.
It is worth noting that not every advantage of every USB microphone will be mentioned here, as some mics have unique features that are not standard across the range of USB microphones, but all the most important and prevalent advantages will be listed here.
The pros of using USB microphones for recording vocals include the following:
- USB microphones are very easy to set up and use for vocal recordings.
- USB microphones make recording vocals very accessible for everyone.
- USB microphones are ideally suited for recording voices.
- USB microphones are very high-quality if you buy the right model.
- USB microphones work with any computer and with any recording software.
- USB microphones provide very good functionality for vocal recordings.
- USB microphones have good frequency response.
- USB microphones are portable and can be easily used anywhere.
- USB microphones usually sound very good because they have a built-in preamp.
- USB microphones are easily controllable and adjustable, enabling the best possible recording.
- USB microphones are ideal for home studios.
USB microphones can make very good vocal microphones, but they do need to be used well to capture high-quality recordings. There are several USB microphones on the market that are designed for vocal recordings, and these are the best options for this purpose.
A USB mic designed for basic use is not ideal for recording vocals, but high-end USB mics designed with vocals in mind make excellent vocal recording mics.
The Cons Of USB Microphones For Vocals
USB microphones are excellent for many reasons, but there are some drawbacks to using these microphones for recording vocals.
It is important to understand the cons of using these microphones for this purpose before you invest in one, as it may not suit your requirements perfectly.
With that said, here are the most important cons of using a USB microphone for vocal recording:
- USB microphones are not always high-quality.
- USB microphones not designed for vocals struggle to record vocals well.
- USB microphones are difficult to mix well.
- USB microphones can only be operated and used with a computer.
- USB microphones do not always produce the clearest vocal tracks.
- USB microphones must be very high-quality to record vocals well.
- USB microphones sound very different from XLR microphones are do not suit all voices.
The main problem with using USB microphones for recording vocals is that any USB mic that is not designed for vocals has a hard time creating good vocal recordings. The fact that these mics sound so different from XLR mics means that not every singing voice sounds good through a USB mic, regardless of its quality.
It is critical, therefore, to find a USB mic that sounds good with the voice that you will record before making any significant purchases.
Which USB Microphone Is Best For Recording Vocals?
There is a very wide range of USB microphones available, which makes it challenging to find the right mic for recording vocals. This leads many enthusiasts to wonder which USB microphone is best for recording vocals.
Any high-end USB mic designed to record voices should do well for vocal recordings, but the reality is that one microphone stands out from the rest.
The best USB microphone available for recording vocals is the Shure MV7. This microphone is designed for podcasting, but the fact that it is made for recording voices means that it is well-suited to capture all of the nuances of the human voice.
The MV7 is a USB mic inspired by the industry standard Shure SM7B, which is among the best microphones on the market for voice and vocal recordings.
The MV7, like the SM7B, is a dynamic microphone rather than a condenser microphone, such as most other USB mics.
Condenser mics are usually the better choice for vocal recordings, but the MV7 leans into the characteristics of a dynamic mic that makes them great for vocal recordings.
A dynamic microphone is very good at drawing the subtleties of a voice out of a recording. Dynamic mics make a voice sound vibrant and alive, bringing a special spark to any vocal recording.
This liveliness is usually what is missing from a USB mic recording, and so the MV7 adds what is missing from most other mics in the same class.
There is simply no better USB mic for recording vocals than the MV7, and anyone who has tried it will confirm that it is the leading mic in its class.
Other Good USB Mics For Recording Vocals
The MV7 is the best USB mic for vocal recordings, but there are some other USB mics that are good for this purpose as well.
Some of the other good USB mics for vocal recordings include the following:
- The Blue Microphones Yeti Multi-Pattern USB Condenser Microphone.
- The Mackie EM-USB Microphone.
- The Rode NT Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone.
- The Razer Seiren Elite USB Microphone.
- The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ USB Microphone.
All of these USB mics are capable of producing high-quality vocal recordings that can be used very easily in an audio mix.
Check out: Are Blue Yetis Good For Rapping?
USB microphones can be very good for recording vocals, but there are some models that are not good for this purpose at all. The key is to find a USB mic that is designed to record voices and then be sure that it sounds good with the voice that you want to record.
The internal hardware of USB microphones means that they each sound very different from other mics, so be sure that you find the right one for your voice and always get the best USB mic that you can afford. This will set you up for very good vocal recordings with your USB microphone.
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